Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Cape Cod Guest Book

I have been trying to complete this project for only a few days shy of a year. I was driven to create this ocean-inspired book after staying at our friends' home on the Cape on New Year's Eve of 2006. At least it's not 2008 yet!

This does make me think I need to add a bullet to my 2008 Resolutions list that pertains to my giant project list...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nolio Pizza (a la Bertucci's)

Bertucci's (or "The Bertooch" as we call it here at work - we share a building with the restaurant...) removed a pizza from their menu a couple of years ago. I don't know why they did this. Their Nolio Pizza - god rest its soul - was a white pizza with mozarella, carmelized onions, lemon-y cream sauce and prosciutto.

About a year ago, I came across a knock-off recipe for the Nolio and resurrected it quite successfully! It's always nice to be able to satisfy a food craving by whipping it up in your own kitchen, and I did just that one day for lunch this weekend. John seemed alarmed at the less-than-healthy ingredients, but I was really able to cut back on the quantity of each ingredient - the flavors are so vibrant and go so well together. The Nolio lives on!

My First Granola!

The cold I've been carrying around now for a week woke me up at 6:30am this past Sunday. Despite feeling kind of lousy, I was overcome with inspiration and made a tray of the Barefoot Contessa's granola. It has been a great snack to have in the house (and at work!) - great plain and extra good on vanilla yogurt. Plus, I didn't have to add nasty raisins or chocolate chips!

A little modified, here's the recipe:
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir to coat. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring once with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, add the cherries and allow to cool. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

Basket o' Sushi

For fundraising purposes, our church encourages members to create themed gift baskets to be raffled off at the Christmas Fair. We are new members (actually, we're not even actual members yet!) so I'd never seen these baskets before, and I was so amazed at how clever and elaborate they were. I had decided on a "sushi" theme for mine, which I hope someone somewhere is enjoying!

We, the Jubilate Ringers, played a bunch of Christmas songs throughout the morning of the fair. That part might not have gone so well. BUT, some friends of mine came, bought some cookies, and decorated their own pre-fab gingerbread houses!

A very congested gingerbread neighborhood!

What Meira made, er, yesterday:

Brainstorming has already begin for next year's fair!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Recycling...With a Little Help From My Friends

...and no help from my work building.

Although we recycle paper in our office, our building does not provide a means of recycling plastic or glass. I drink a ton of water at work, and suddenly became very tuned in with the plastic I was throwing away each day.

I started saving my plastic and glass bottles, and the pile grew so quickly that I found myself with a dilemma: how do I get these bottles home without looking like a bag lady on the train?

The answer: have your friend bring them home for you! I was feeling very lucky that 1) my coworker's husband is a passionate recycler, and 2) he was picking her up at work one day this week. The two of them drove my 2 giant bags o' bottles to Arlington where they were recycled:

Totally embarrassing (my coworker brought my garbage to her house!). But I guess I needed that visual to help me change some habits. I now have a Nalgene bottle at work which I refill, and we discovered that the Au Bon Pain across the street has a bottle recycling bin.

I find each week that our recycling bin is overflowing while our second garbage bin goes unused. This seems like a good problem, but it makes me wonder why recycling bins are so much smaller than garbage bins. This seems to send the wrong message about recycling volume right off the bat. We should have equal or more recyclables than disposables. Case in point, here is my green garbage bin (on the left) and my recycling (right) for this week:

A Political Stance: I Support Kucinich in '08

Similar to the premature media push for Christmas that started in October of this year, I am extremely frustrated with the same media telling me that major decisions have already been made in the November 2008 Presidential Election.

We are shown each day that the race is on between the 3 "major candidates" in each party and, via corporate-owned media, we are spoon-fed who these "major candidates" are before a single vote has been cast.

It's 2007. The playing field is even right now, and I am looking beyond the "major candidates" in this election since each of them seem to be the same creepy, lackluster candidate at a time when our society is in need of tremendous honest, positive change.

There is something seriously wrong when billions of dollars are earmarked for defense while there isn't funding for enough books, heat, or extracurricular activities in our public schools. Our two-income home feels the pinch of necessary expenses and school loans. Maternity leave is limited and unpaid (seriously, check out that link!), and most people I know have found it more affordable to stay home from work rather than pay for day care. Private and even public college tuitions are rising at exponential, unaffordable rates. The homes, job security (with pensions!), and social security that were a given for the previous generation are non-existent or difficult to obtain for young American families. Certainly, day-to-day living is much more challenging for one- or no-income families, and I am grateful for all I do have. My hope is for more support and stability. Something needs to change. Here's something I cut out a while ago from a summer issue of Redbook (click for a larger, readable version):

I believe that Dennis Kucinich stands out among the Democratic candidates for the 2008 Election, and I thought it was important to post and discuss this idea lest he be pushed too far to the sidelines before 2008 even arrives.

Do check out Boston Channel 5's Compare the Candidates.

Addendum, 12/12/07:
In Boston's Metro newspaper yesterday was an article about Harvard's plan to charge tuition on a sliding scale based upon the student's family income. This really struck me as a revolutionary idea (here in the US, anyway), especially coming from an institution such as Harvard that can essentially "get away" with high tuition based upon the reputation of the college. It made me feel hopeful!